The Built Environment, Climate Change, and Health

National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, CDC, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.
American journal of preventive medicine (Impact Factor: 4.53). 12/2008; 35(5):517-26. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.017
Source: PubMed


The earth's climate is changing, due largely to greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity. These human-generated gases derive in part from aspects of the built environment such as transportation systems and infrastructure, building construction and operation, and land-use planning. Transportation, the largest end-use consumer of energy, affects human health directly through air pollution and subsequent respiratory effects, as well as indirectly through physical activity behavior. Buildings contribute to climate change, influence transportation, and affect health through the materials utilized, decisions about sites, electricity and water usage, and landscape surroundings. Land use, forestry, and agriculture also contribute to climate change and affect health by increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, shaping the infrastructures for both transportation and buildings, and affecting access to green spaces. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected with regard to transportation, buildings, and land use, and are most at risk for experiencing the effects of climate change. Working across sectors to incorporate a health promotion approach in the design and development of built environment components may mitigate climate change, promote adaptation, and improve public health.

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Available from: Stephen M Vindigni
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    • "These differences underscore the importance of investigating transportation decisions in smaller cities and their implications for both local and regional planning. If the built environment were altered to increase physical activity and to reduce automotive vehicle miles traveled[34], co-benefits of reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions would arise[35,36]. Pitkin and Myers[37]point out that as baby boomers age it would be wise to plan for " smart reuse " of existing land uses, including improved efficiency of built environment design for reduced need to drive. Changes might be easier during periods of growth, when change in local infrastructure is likely to be occurring anyway, as well as during periods of decline, when such alterations might increase marketability or usability of existing land uses and patterns. "

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    • "Milner et al. (2012) for example, emphasise how housing energy efficiency impacts upon urban air quality, thermal comfort, and associated wellbeing, and has co-benefits associated with reductions in certain types of chronic disease. Others have pointed to the joint benefits afforded by policies that promote cycling and walking over motor vehicle use in cities (Younger et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic climate change is progressively transforming the environment despite political and technological attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tackle global warming. Here we propose that greater insight and understanding of the health-related impacts of climate change can be gained by integrating the positivist approaches used in public health and epidemiology, with holistic social science perspectives on health in which the concept of ‘wellbeing’ is more explicitly recognised. Such an approach enables us to acknowledge and explore a wide range of more subtle, yet important health-related outcomes of climate change. At the same time, incorporating notions of wellbeing enables recognition of both the health co-benefits and dis-benefits of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies across different population groups and geographical contexts. The paper recommends that future adaptation and mitigation policies seek to ensure that benefits are available for all since current evidence suggests that they are spatially and socially differentiated, and their accessibility is dependent on a range of contextually specific socio-cultural factors.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Environmental Science & Policy
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    • "Our findings extend previous research in adult populations that suggest non- Whites perceive climate change as a higher risk than whites (Smith and Leiserowitz 2012). Some have explained this difference by noting that some non-White populations are disproportionately exposed to the negative effects of climate change as minority populations are more likely to live in inner cities affected by air pollution and heat-island effects (Younger et al. 2008) or in areas more prone to sea-level rise and storm surges (Kleinosky et al. 2006), risks which are projected to be exacerbated by climate change (Michener et al. 1997; Younger et al. 2008). As individuals who personally experience adverse effects of a specific threat are more likely to perceive that threat as high risk (Slovic and Weber 2002), similar factors may partially explain why non-White adolescents in our study appear more likely to accept AGW. "
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    ABSTRACT: Though many climate literacy efforts attempt to communicate climate change as a risk, these strategies may be ineffective because among adults, worldview rather than scientific understanding largely drives climate change risk perceptions. Further, increased science literacy may polarize worldview-driven perceptions, making some climate literacy efforts ineffective among skeptics. Because worldviews are still forming in the teenage years, adolescents may represent a more receptive audience. This study examined how worldview and climate change knowledge related to acceptance of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and in turn, climate change risk perception among middle school students in North Carolina, USA (n = 387). We found respondents with individualistic worldviews were 16.1 percentage points less likely to accept AGW than communitarian respondents at median knowledge levels, mirroring findings in similar studies among adults. The interaction between knowledge and worldview, however, was opposite from previous studies among adults, because increased climate change knowledge was positively related to acceptance of AGW among both groups, and had a stronger positive relationship among individualists. Though individualists were 24.1 percentage points less likely to accept AGW than communitarians at low levels (bottom decile) of climate change knowledge, there was no statistical difference in acceptance levels between individualists and communitarians at high levels of knowledge (top decile). Non-White and females also demonstrated higher levels of AGW acceptance and climate change risk perception, respectively. Thus, education efforts specific to climate change may counteract divisions based on worldviews among adolescents.
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